MEF Newsletter June 2017

MEF Newsletter

June 2017

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Mike Kadel
Greetings from your Interim CEO

As we enter into the last month of the second quarter of the year, the staff at Marin Economic Forum has been focused on providing economic vitality to Marin County by focusing on fundraising, engaging the Board, and re-invigorating the working groups. I am excited to report that through these activities, and your support, MEF is poised to provide value in terms of ensuring Marin County’s economy continues to thrive.

Our revenues are increasing due to additional sponsorship monies, and our working groups are busy tackling some key initiatives for the organization. Here are some key highlights we have accomplished since the beginning of this year:

  • • Both Glassdoor and Sterling Bank have joined our organization. Zachary Kushel, head of Business Development for Glass Door, and John Harty, Head of Wealth Management for Sterling Bank, have recently been invited to join our Board of Directors. Both John and Zachary are Marin County residents and are extremely well versed in the economic attributes of our County. I would like to welcome them to Marin Economic Forum.
  • • In terms of Advocacy, at the March Board meeting, our Board approved support of the City of Novato’s General Plan update for the Bel Marin Key’s Bio Life Science Campus Amendment. This proposed amendment to the General Plan is needed in order to increase the height limit from 35 feet to 64 feet on commercial buildings; these changes are necessary to keep Bio Marin and Ultragenyx in particular to continue to have a strong footprint in the County, but also to attract other life-science companies. Both companies expect to increase life-science jobs for Marin County from the current count of 2,000 jobs to 4,000 jobs over the next twenty years.
  • • Our Innovation/Entrepreneurial Working Group is also in the process of partnering with Dominican University to create a Small Business Service Portal. Primarily this portal will be able to provide support and vital resources to the 46,000 plus small businesses that currently consider Marin as their location. In essence, the portal will exist on MEF’s website that will provide a list of entrepreneurs and small business owners and service providers (business planning, finance, Internet providers, legal advice, etc.) Each service provider will be able to enter a brief summary of each of their services. When a small business owner later submits a request for a particular service completed with a subject matter, the portal is expected to provide a listing of all offerings. Stay tuned as we provide more information as this portal is being developed.
  • Lastly, I am happy to report that Dr. Rob Eyler and I presented an annual update to the County Supervisors on the successes Marin Economic Forum has had this past fiscal year. As a result, MEF received its $150,000 annual matching contribution from the County based on a unanimous vote in favor by the County supervisors. A special thank-you to Judy Arnold and Damon Connolly for helping us in this effort.

    In closing, I want to personally wish you and your families a very safe and happy summer. Please let me know if there is anything I or MEF can do to support your business.

    The Marin Economic Forum (MEF) is a public-private partnership, serving as the platform for collaborative efforts on improving Marin County’s economic vitality while seeking to enhance social equity and environmental protection.

    Chief Economist, Dr. Robert Eyler
    Preparing for SMART Travel: Expectations and Efficiency

    We need to ride the SMART train when it starts to make it a success. SMART is expected to announce on June 7 when they will be taking passengers. After years of debate, an election, planning, construction, car purchases, sales tax rates rising and falling, and economic recession and recovery, the North Bay is about to get a train to move people. I was fortunate enough to be asked my opinion many times along the way by proponents, pessimists and all kinds of people, and I am still asked regularly. The economics of public transportation systems should not have the same expectations as private systems (which rarely exist for mass transit) or of a private market setting. Three tenets exist:

    • The train must provide riders with an incentive to take the train, either through price or time saved or both;
    • The train must solve “last-mile” problems in Marin and Sonoma counties due to the dispersion of the population from the train stations; and
    • The public needs to recognize this is a public good, with a large cost of exclusion and a small cost of inclusion.

    Being a public good means there is a tradeoff of equity and efficiency. Because prices are subsidized to remain low and provide an incentive to ride for all income levels as possible, the efficiency of the system may not be perfect. We need to form expectations that there may be delays now and then, just like when we use a taxi or Uber, versus our expectations.

    One of the new markets that act as both a substitute and a complement for SMART that arrived on the scene after the 2008 election and approval was the “sharing” economy taking off with businesses like Uber and Lyft. Potential riders of the SMART train may be torn at times between Uber, Lyft, a taxi, the train, a bus, or driving by themselves. The beauty is that such a sharing business could solve the last mile problem or at least mitigate it in such a way that a private market acts as a complement to the public one. The SMART leadership has seen this and we hear that such partnerships may be coming. This is a classic business move: partner with competition or be undermined by it when there are few players in town.

    We also need to keep our expectations in check in terms of traffic flows and reducing the number of cars on the road due to ridership levels on the SMART train. Traffic conditions are an economic phenomenon: we supply roadway space that is demanded by drivers. We live in a single-driver car culture in the North Bay due to the spaces between major towns and cities, and a lack of historic options. It is ok that traffic will still exist; riders of the SMART train will create open space on the road and while economic conditions are good, people moving from Sonoma County south will fill the space along with Marin County commuters.

    We need the trains full; there is now an option of tourism as well. Where we may see a traffic reduction is on weekends, which now mirror commute traffic almost every Saturday going north and Sunday going south. Sonoma and Napa counties draw a lot of tourism through Marin County; the SMART train could bring more tourism to Marin as well.

    Ride the trains and enjoy the experience. The train helps many riders moving north to south, and needs to be supported.

    *Update: Based upon the June 7th announcement, SMART is almost ready to perform a "soft opening" once the Federal Rail Authority completes its audit and certifies that SMART is safe to transport passengers. Supervisor Judy Arnold has offered a ride for any organization or individual that would like to ride the SMART train during this time, so please let us know. We will forward your contact information over to Judy's office so you can ride SMART!

    Board Corner
    MEF Board Director, Frank Borodic, Roundstone Inn
    Marconi Conference Center and Historic State Park

    Frank Borodic, MEF Board director and owner of Rounstone Inn (, is working to preserve a state historic landmark. The Marconi Conference Center ( and State Historic Park has a rich human history that dates back hundreds of years. From the pre-historic villages of the coastal Miwok to the farming communities of today, the Tomales Bay ecosystem has supported the livelihoods of thousands of people.

    As a treasure to the Marin community, Marconi Conference Center offers a distraction-free environment, professional-caliber meeting space, comfortable lodging, delicious and healthful meals and a conference staff that is skillful. Accommodating and guest-oriented, the lodging buildings are nestled around a garden courtyard that offers an ideal spot guests to relax.

    This historic state park is in need of renovations and the Marin Economic Forum is pleased to provide our services to assess the economic benefit and recommendation towards keeping this treasure alive for future generations to enjoy.

    Next time you find yourself on the Point Reyes coast in Marshall, stop by the Marconi Conference Center and Historic Park for a unique and beautiful west Marin experience.

    Upcoming Events
    Executive Committee
    Friday, June 16 & 21, 2017, 8:30—10:00am
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903
    Better Ways to Close More Deals - Special 2 hour Workshop with Linda Palermo
    VenturePad: 1020 B Street, San Rafael, 94901
    Ticket link: click here
    Board Meeting
    Friday, July 28, 2016, 8:30—10:30am
    College of Marin – Indian Valley Campus, Novato
    SchoolsRule Marin
    Friday, June 28th
    5:30-6:30 Social hour and Reception
    6:30-9:00 Dinner & Entertainment
    Marin County Fairgrounds, under the pavilion tent
    Purchase Tickets at or call 415-491-6680
    Tuesday, September 19, 4:30pm-7:30pm
    Details TBA

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    MEF Newsletter January 2017

    MEF Newsletter

    January 2017

    Chief Executive Officer, Jim Cordeiro
    Concentration, Focus and Habits

    Happy New Year! This month we discuss concentration, maintaining focus, and the habits to achieve our objectives.

    Concentration is awareness, the calling of attention and awakening of a motive. Focus is the fundamental resource used to arrive at an established goal. Habits develop at the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.

    Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, what to do, and the why. Skill is how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do.

    Ask yourself, what is the one thing I can do, that in doing it , the rest becomes easier or unnecessary? Developing focus leads to discipline and good habits. The Organization of activities and establishment of priorities (important and urgent) are key factors in a strong plan towards a vital economy.

    As seen below in the Chief Economist perspective, Marin is an affluent place, but poverty is a factor to watch. MEF strives to support a vital economy through engaging Marin’s key stakeholders to develop focus and the discipline of good habits. Change must be motivated by a higher purpose, by a willingness to subordinate what we think we want now for what we want later.

    As the saying goes, “The distance between the dream and the reality is called discipline.”

    Until next month, let us all develop focus through discipline and good habits to do that one thing, that in doing it, the rest becomes easier or unnecessary.

    The Marin Economic Forum (MEF) is a public-private partnership, serving as the platform for collaborative efforts on improving Marin County’s economic vitality, while seeking to enhance social equity and environmental protection. Visit to learn more about our collaborative efforts.

    Chief Economist, Dr. Robert Eyler
    Marin County and Post-Recession Demography: Part 1

    Every year, the Census Bureau updates its database with a survey called the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is meant to be the Census before the Census, a rolling five-year window of Census-like data in summary form. The surveys are shorter and focused on major data items in four categories:

  • 1. Household Composition
  • 2. Economic Characteristics
  • 3. Housing Characteristics
  • 4. Demographics
  • This month, I look at some of the standout data that are in this survey for Marin County versus California overall, and also discuss what is missing. These data are an average from 2011 to 2015, the post-recession era to date. The data can be found at MEF is working on these data as quick graphs on our website; please see soon for our data pages. This is part one of a two-part series.


    These data describe how households (people living in a home) form that household. Some households are married people, some are a person living alone, some are people living together unmarried. In Marin County, 50 percent of households are married couples, 0.9 percentage points above the state average. 31 percent of Marin County households are someone living alone; for California, that number is 24.1 percent. 30 percent of households have a child under 18 years old in Marin County, where the state average is 36.1 percent of households. 33.9 percent of Marin County households have someone over 65 years old in the home versus only 26.3 for California.

    Economic Status

    Approximately 65 percent of Marin County’s population is in the labor force (working or looking for work). For California, it is 63.6 percent of the population. Marin County has 60.3 percent of the female population in the labor force, where California is 57.3 percent. A standout data point is that 10.1 percent of workers work from home in Marin County versus 5.3 percent for California overall; this data helps corroborate a long-standing hypothesis that Marin County has a large amount of home-based businesses versus the state. Further, 15.3 percent of Marin County’s working population is self-employed versus just 8.3 percent in California on average. Over 41 percent of Marin County’s working population works in professional or business services or education or health care versus just 34 percent for California overall.

    Two data points that lead to a lot of questions for me include median income and poverty data. For Marin County, median household income is estimated at $93,257 as an average of 2011 to 2015. California is $61,818. Marin County is among the highest median household incomes in the United States by county. In terms of poverty, 8.3 percent of Marin County’s population is in federal poverty conditions, while 16.3 percent of California’s population is estimated to be in federal poverty conditions. Marin County has the lowest poverty rate of any county in California with at least 250,000 residents.

    Final Takes

    These data are snapshots and should be compared to history. My intention here was to provide the current snapshot, as stated by the Census Bureau, but also provide a flavor of what is reported annually. Advocates, elected officials, government staff workers, local businesses, and some residents in Marin County have asked for these data over time, and the data are not comprehensive. There is more depth and comparisons available from the Census Bureau.

    The household composition and economic data suggest that Marin is an affluent place, but poverty is a factor to watch. While relatively low, 8.3 percent of the population living under the federal poverty line suggests that there are even more people living marginally in Marin County due to the high local cost of living. The federal poverty line in 2015 was an annual income of $24,250 for a household of four people. Poverty likely includes some older residents, and an aging population is something we will look at next month as we add housing unit characteristics and demographics.

    Board Corner
    MEF Board Director, Frank Borodic, Roundstone Inn
    Marconi Conference Center and Historic State Park

    Frank Borodic, MEF Board director and owner of Rounstone Inn (, is working to preserve a state historic landmark. The Marconi Conference Center ( and State Historic Park has a rich human history that dates back hundreds of years. From the pre-historic villages of the coastal Miwok to the farming communities of today, the Tomales Bay ecosystem has supported the livelihoods of thousands of people.

    As a treasure to the Marin community, Marconi Conference Center offers a distraction-free environment, professional-caliber meeting space, comfortable lodging, delicious and healthful meals and a conference staff that is skillful. Accommodating and guest-oriented, the lodging buildings are nestled around a garden courtyard that offers an ideal spot guests to relax.

    This historic state park is in need of renovations and the Marin Economic Forum is pleased to provide our services to assess the economic benefit and recommendation towards keeping this treasure alive for future generations to enjoy.

    Next time you find yourself on the Point Reyes coast in Marshall, stop by the Marconi Conference Center and Historic Park for a unique and beautiful west Marin experience.

    Upcoming Events
    Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate Working Group
    Wednesday, January 11, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Finance Industry Working Group
    Wednesday, January 11, 2:30pm - 3:30pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Board Meeting
    Friday, January 27, 2016, 8:30—11:30am
    Buck Institute, 8001 Redwood Blvd, Novato

    Visit for details.

    MEF Business Professional’s Collaboration and Education Group
    Thursday, January 19, 2017, 5:00pm—7:00pm
    Community Room, Drake’s Landing, Larkspur
    Visit for details.
    Annual Economic Forecast 2017
    Friday January 20, 2017, 8:00am—11:00am
    Yellen Conference Center, 101 Market St, San Francisco 94105
    Visit for details.

    Destination Management Working Group
    Wednesday February 1, 2017, 1:00—2:00pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Innovation Working Group
    Wednesday February 1, 2017, 2:30—3:30pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Finance Committee
    Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 10:30—11:30am
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Issues Committee
    Friday, February 10, 2017, 8:30—9:30am, 10:30—11:30am
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Visit for details.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    MEF Newsletter December 2016

    Michael Kadel

    MEF Newsletter

    December 2016

    Chief Executive Officer, Jim Cordeiro
    Knowledge Age, Planning + Hope

    The late 20th century was a period of major social, economic and political changes. It was also a time in which there were big changes in knowledge – in how people see knowledge and how they use it. This period is now widely known as the beginning of the Knowledge Age – to distinguish it from the Industrial Age.

    The Knowledge Age is a new, advanced form of capitalism in which knowledge and ideas are the main source of economic growth (more important than land, labour, money, or other ‘tangible resources). New patterns of work and new business practices have developed, and, as a result, new kinds of workers, with new and different skills, are required.

    As well as this (and this is very important for education), knowledge’s meaning is changing. Knowledge is no longer being thought of as ‘stuff’ that is developed (and stored) in the minds of experts, represented in books, and classified into disciplines. Instead, it is now thought of as being like a form of energy, as a system of networks and flows – something that does things, or makes things happen. Knowledge Age knowledge is defined—and valued—not for what it is, but for what it can do. It is produced, not by individual experts, but by ‘collectivising intelligence’ – that is, groups of people with complementary expertise who collaborate for specific purposes. These changes have major implications for our education system.

    As schools prepare young people for successful lives in the 21st century, new skills and dispositions are being developed. This can’t be done simply by adding these ‘new’ skills and dispositions to the existing curriculum. To build a 21st century system, a new mindset is required that can take account of the new meaning of knowledge and the new contexts and purposes for learning this knowledge. ‘21st century learning’ is a shorthand term that draws together the ingredients of this new mindset.

    The changes discussed earlier are primarily economic and work-related. Education is, of course, about much more than simply preparing people for work. It has other important goals: for example, developing social and citizenship skills, providing equal opportunity, and building social cohesion. Expressed this way, these are 20th century goals.

    What might these goals look like in the 21st century context?

    The shift to 21st century society involves much more than the economic changes outlined earlier – major social and political changes are also happening.

    Guidance by Hope is good. Guidance by Planning is better. Guidance by Planning + Hope is best.

    The Marin Economic Forum (MEF) is a public-private partnership, serving as the platform for collaborative efforts on improving Marin County’s economic vitality, while seeking to enhance social equity and environmental protection.

    Visit to learn more about our collaborative efforts.

    Until next month, MEF wishes you a new year full of good health and prosperity.

    Chief Economist, Dr. Robert Eyler
    What Next?

    While you may feel beat up from the September and October election rush, and worse due to the election results, it is now time to plan for what is coming. Generally, the economy is not affected by presidential elections alone or over the long-term; the combination of presidential and congressional elections resulting in consolidation of Republican control is concerning the Democratic party and many Americans on both sides of the aisle as to how the economy reacts and the long-term effects on national debt and our labor markets. Concerns are due mainly to uncertainty, and we have heard a lot of promises. With 2017 just around the corner, here are the key things I am watching (for now) as an economist.

    ACA unwind/De-regulation of Health Care

    After years of set-up, beta testing, preparing for change, and now living under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are rumblings that the Trump administration plans to engage in a “repeal and replace” agenda in health care. This may be part of a broader framework to change health insurance conditions for many Americans by reducing the current system’s availability and revert to a more market-driven system. How this allows insurance companies to reduce their costs, how it begins steps toward reducing regulations in health care and financial markets, and also exacerbates the actual, patient costs of medications and medical care generally depends on how the ACA is replaced. The implications could drastically change the economics of health care and how people use American health systems (or do not use them at all due to a lack of affordability).

    Immigration and internal labor markets

    One of the other marginally controversial topics from the Trump camp was what to do about immigration. From the election season, the idea that the United States needs immigration reform was generally accepted. The way that happens, how it changes family and labor dynamics, and its ability to be enforced well, are all open questions. As economists, the labor-market interference such a process begins -- even before any change based on actual legislation – can change the way in which small businesses hire, wages they face, and all this coming in California at the same time as new minimum wage legislation is to go into effect. The flow of people over US borders for work purposes is likely the first battleground: will companies be penalized for not using Americans as a workforce for goods sold in America? Recent events suggest a disconnect between rhetoric and reality here.


    Taxes were one of the major debate topics in 2016, and are a great way to buy political victories in the short term. Much like a tax cut’s cousin, more fiscal spending, there are both short and long term effects. In the short term, a reduction of tax rates and a “broadening of the base” (more entities, corporate or households) paying taxes increase fiscal deficits. Over time, if the base is broadened in such a way as to not detract the economic activity from which the tax is derived (for example, a national sales or services tax), tax revenues may rise. However, the risk that tax revenues may fall with lower taxes, that investment (the goal of lowering taxes if corporate taxes were to fall) would fall, and deficits and debt would rise, is high. Tax cuts do not have the same multiplicative effects on the economy as increasing spending specific to infrastructure, but are attractive political pawns to move.

    Infrastructure investment

    This is another point that both sides of the aisle and many economists feel is a way to sustain our current growth and prepare for two more generations of growth. The key to infrastructure investment by our federal government is the focus of that investment. The rhetoric has been to look at building a wall, or something that has the effect of an impermeable border, versus roads, bridges and dams as examples. Both would have the same, basic short-term effect; depending on the longer-term labor market effects of immigration reform. A focus on repairing and expanding infrastructure may also be regional and supporting older technologies (driving) versus new ones (wireless). Hence, how this would affect a place like Marin County is likely to be small, short of speeding up funding for the Novato Narrows, or more support for the SMART rail project.

    Child care

    Due to Measure A’s defeat in Marin County’s election, and Donald Trump’s victory in the national election, child care support from the public sector has a strange future. I was shocked that Marin County did not see itself wanting to subsidize this activity, where children under five years old would have an environment as envisioned in “Strong Start”. Will the Trump administration see child care as a priority and complement to working mothers? We do not know, but if the vote in Marin County did not make it through, it is tricky to see a congressional deal happening on federal child care soon.

    In short, we have an election result we did not expect from a candidate that has no set agenda or political experience to date. The latter is coming soon, the former will need to come soon also if the American economy is to move forward less tentatively and guided by planning versus hope.

    Board Corner
    MEF Board Director, Chris Stewart, North Bay Life Science Alliance

    The North Bay Life Science Alliance ( was established by economic development and life science professionals, educators and public leaders across the region. Backed by an initial investment by the City of Novato and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the initiative will promote the region’s capabilities for advancing life sciences.

    Anchored by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and BioMarin, the North Bay is home to more than 200 life science organizations and hundreds of acclaimed researchers. In 2012, the Buck Institute alone attracted $40 million in national grants and the region drew in more than $10 million in National Institute of Health (NIH) grants.

    California is the top destination for venture capital in life sciences, attracting more than the next eight ranked states combined. Not surprisingly, the industry is expanding beyond its traditional strongholds in the East Bay, the South Bay and the Peninsula. Providing access to the same resources as our neighbors, the North Bay has already emerged as an attractive alternative. More than 200 companies have chosen to base themselves in the region. In Marin County, life-science revenues are surging past $750 million and associated jobs are climbing toward 2,000. That activity is expected to grow and spread west on the basis of local success stories like these.

    Visit for more details.

    Upcoming Events
    Destination Management Working Group
    Wednesday, December 7, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903

    Innovation Working Group
    Wednesday, December 7, 2:30pm - 3:30pm
    555 Northgate Dr, San Rafael 94903
    Visit for details.

    MEF Business Professional’s Collaboration and Education Group
    Thursday, January 19, 2017, 5:00pm—7:00pm
    Community Room, Drake’s Landing, Larkspur
    Visit for details.
    Annual Economic Forecast 2017
    Friday January 20, 2017, 8:00am—11:00am
    Yellen Conference Center, 101 Market St, San Francisco 94105
    Visit for details.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    MEF Newsletter November 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    November 2016

    Chief Executive Officer, Jim Cordeiro
    The Concept of Wisdom, part 3 of a 3 part series

    Autumn is the time of year to harvest what has been sown through the past winter, spring and summer. The cycle of change is upon us and festive celebrations such as Halloween, All Saints Day, Dia de Los Muertos and Election day mark this transition.

    In any traditions or organizations, there is a need to pass on not only the knowledge but also the wisdom to the younger generation in order to secure growth or at least survival of the traditions/ organizations. When a martial art master passes his knowledge on to his disciple, it’s not only about the technique of how to use a sword! You can always learn the technique easily by e.g. reading a book. But what makes the disciple able to carry out the work of the master is always about his ability to internalise the lessons from the master, reflect upon it, use it, gain experience with it and thereby achieve his own wisdom with the lessons! In this way, information to knowledge to wisdom is interconnected and consciously managed by the master himself!

    How do we transform information into knowledge into wisdom?

    In one word, it’s experience. The information can be stored, it can be useful and become knowledge when it has been used. In essence, we take the information, contextualize it and thereby achieve a whole new meaning with it, thereby becoming knowledge. Between knowledge and wisdom is a bridge called “knowing”. Knowing is deeper, and it comes when knowledge has been reflected and internalized.

    Let us recap what we have learned over this 3-part series:
    – Information is new material communicated.
    – Knowledge is learning transfer and the ability to teach this new material.
    – Wisdom is our ability to internalise, reflect, use and gain experience

    The Marin Economic Forum (MEF) is a public-private partnership, serving as a platform for collaborative efforts on improving Marin County’s economic vitality, while seeking to enhance social equity and environmental protection. Here at MEF we speak about the 4 E’s: economy, equity, environment and education. Let us take this new learned material, practice learning transfer and achieve our own wisdom with these lessons to educate Marin about its economy and communities.

    We hope you enjoyed this 3-part series on information, knowledge and wisdom. Please visit to learn more about our collaborative efforts towards a sustainable and vital economy.

    Until next month, I leave you with the following quote:

    “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” —Brian Herbert

    Chief Economist, Dr. Robert Eyler
    Knowledge and Job Marketing Matching

    Many of the economic forecasts, for both the California and national economies, are for continued growth through 2019 and perhaps 2020. This continued “recovery” will be the longest growth period in American history, if the forecasts are correct. Our previous two newsletters focused on information and knowledge. This one is about wisdom. Has this recovery made us wiser as consumers and savers? What does being wiser economically really mean?

    In some ways, the answer is simple. Saving is a “wiser” act than consumption because saving conserves resources and is a reaction to an inevitable future. For example, we all know at some point we individually cannot work like we do now. We save for the time of no longer working -- like taxes and death, an inevitability. Saving is triggered by how people see a return on saving money, or how interest rates provide such a return. One of the lingering effects of the recent recession is that interest rates across most of the advanced world economy were driven historically low by policy and remain there. Why is there an incentive to save with interest rates that low?

    But we have seen savings rate recover, partially due to people paying off past debts and also slowing down their household’s consumption. Consumption is rising again. Incomes are rising and home and equity values are also rising. There is an income and wealth effect that drives consumption, and as the economy grows and recovers, we should expect increases in consumption.

    Is this a wise move? Millennials, people between 25 and 34 years old in 2016, are considered the epicenter of a debt crisis of their own in student debt. They also saw a generation before lose on housing bets. One of the wisest moves, given the data, is to gain access to education based on education’s return to investment versus not having more education. However, repaying that debt means shifting consumption or investment in other goods and services.

    Education is an act of investment versus consumption. This distinction is subtle: buying a new iPhone for business is an investment; buying an iPhone for a 14 year-old is consumption. However, both are likely used in similar ways. Generating income later from purchases today can be seen as a wise form of spending or investment; buying a house is an investment where renting is consumption. The home purchase circumvents rent (which in the current tax code does not allow for deductions against part or all of the home payment) while generating wealth for the owner. Housing wealth losses sustained during the Great Recession have been made up since 2010. buying and holding assets has also been seen as a wise choice.

    Our experience in the 2008-10 “Great” Recession remains with us in good ways. Have we gained any wisdom about how our economy works the need to save parallel to consumption, and shifting spending in the form of investment? How we enter and exit the next recession reveals many answers to these questions.

    Two ways that we seem to have little wisdom is in our national debt and the reality that without rules changes, social security and Medicare (as just two examples of archaic, pension or related systems) may not survive the generation to retire between 2029 and 2045. One piece of wisdom is that there is no fountain of youth, and we save (both intuitively and with the help of financial planners) based on actuarial tables that describe our statistical life span. Will we continue to retire at the same age? What if we live longer than we expected? Are we wise enough to save now and consume less tomorrow for that, or do we care? What is on the other side of that choice if wrong? If only we had that amount of wisdom, but the information and knowledge is not there, just statistics.

    Board Corner
    MEF Board Director, Chris Stewart, Economic Development Manager, City of Novato

    The City of Novato, the North Bay Life Science Alliance and the Marin Economic Forum collaborated to generate the city’s 2016 Annual Report. One highlight is the economic impact of the Life Science Industry in Novato. Jobs created and the multiplier effect continues to benefit Novato following the 2008 Great Recession. Visit for details

    Upcoming Events
    2016 Leaders of the North Bay Awards Luncheon
    Friday, November 4, 11:30am - 1:30pm
    Embassy Suites, 101 McInnis Parkway, San Rafael, CA
    Visit for details.
    Election Day
    Tuesday, November 8
    Your polling place
    Measure A
    The leaders of Marin’s business-related organizations urge a Yes vote on Measure A – Strong Starts for Kids.

    Marin Equity Summit
    Thursday, November 10, 8:00 – 5:00pm
    The Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA
    Visit for details.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    MEF Newsletter October 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    October 2016

    Chief Executive Officer Jim Cordeiro
    The Concept of Knowledge

    Elon Musk is good at a very specific type of learning that most of us aren’t even aware of — learning transfer.

    Learning transfer is taking what we learn in one context and applying it to another. It can be taking a kernel of what we learn in school or in a book and applying it to the “real world.” It can also be taking what we learn in one industry and applying it to another.

    Most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. Musk has a unique process for fostering learning transfer. First, he deconstructs knowledge into fundamental principles. It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree. Make sure you understand the fundamental principles — i.e. the trunk and big branches — before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang onto. The second involves reconstructing the foundational principles he’s learned in artificial intelligence, technology, physics, and engineering into separate fields.

    The concept of knowledge has a logical structure to it and you need to understand the foundations before moving to the extremities. Musk’s emphasis on “fundamental principles” mirrors another healthy habit of mind he adheres to: first principles thinking. Musk says that with first principles, “you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.

    The approach goes all the way back to Ancient Greece, which was the start of Western civilization’s attempts to systematize knowledge. Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle said that a first principle is the “first basis from which a thing is known” and that pursuing first principles is the key to doing any sort of systemic inquiry — whether in philosophy as he did, or in business as Musk does. In other words, you have to get to know the tree’s trunk, then branch out from there.

    The Marin Economic Forum (MEF) is a public-private partnership, serving as a platform for collaborative efforts on improving Marin County’s economic vitality, while seeking to enhance social equity and environmental protection. As MEF builds up our reservoir of “first principles” and associates these principles with different fields, we gain the superpower of being able to go into a new field we’ve never learned before and quickly make unique contributions.

    Part 3 of this 3 part series will explore the concept of wisdom and how we transform knowledge. Until next month, we leave you with the following quote:

    We are in an age that assumes that the narrowing trends of specialization to be logical, natural, and desirable… In the meantime, humanity has been deprived of comprehensive understanding. Specialization has bred feelings of isolation, futility, and confusion in individuals. It has also resulted in the individual’s leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which in turn leads to war.” —Buckminster Fuller

    Chief Economist Dr. Robert Eyler
    Knowledge and Job Marketing Matching

    Economists have struggled with knowledge acquisition and its transformation to worker productivity since economics started as a social science. In the 1960’'s, a soon-to-be Nobel Laureate economist, Kenneth Arrow, wrote a paper called "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing." The idea of learning by doing, or the acquisition of job knowledge by doing the job, slowly transformed the way economists looked at training programs. Previous to this study, economists assumed the worker’'s knowledge base was determined outside the job area and brought to their job (and really not changed without formal education). What if workers gained knowledge at their jobs and became more productive by doing their work or something similar?

    In many ways, workforce development programs, apprenticeships, and other “"on-the-job”" training employ this learning-by-doing concept. For the past two years, a six-county initiative in the North Bay has been looking at career pathways, or how to turn knowledge into a career for students in high schools and community colleges. This is part of a state-wide initiative to pair vocational training and education programs with possible jobs in the future. The educational facilities, and a wide variety of partner organizations (workforce development organizations, such as WIOA run by counties funded nationally by the Department of Labor, are part of this also), attempt to provide third-party training.

    Can the career pathways lead to training programs? Many movements, such as the Maker movement, suggest that hands-on training can help people (especially kids) more easily acquire science and math foundations and critical thinking, but does training convert to knowledge. We are making such a wager through our North Bay educational institutions expanding training and apprenticeships and internships for students. These are all variations on a learning-by-doing theme: by actually doing the job you acquire the knowledge to do the job better.

    Communication with employers is the bridge to make any third-party, training program work. For the job market, a challenge is to provide those skills in a timely way to match labor demand. Some of that challenge is to foresee what skills may be needed four to five years in the distance. In economics, markets are a place where labor trades its skills for wages and salaries. Does it trade knowledge? Going to college has a regal goal of acquiring knowledge in many cases. Does that mean a fresh graduate from a CSU or UC campus is work ready? That subtle difference is sorted on the job market in ways that can be very painful for new entrants if they have knowledge but not job skills.

    In the end, the learning-by-doing concept is taking a worker and adding skills, or knowledge of how to get a job done. Credential programs have a "practicum" component where students practice teaching (learning-by-doing); I am sure many of us have stories of professors that have amazing knowledge, but struggled with teaching. Part of that is the dichotomy of skills versus knowledge. When both are in place, they become powerful allies in the labor market.

    We have job matching problems throughout the United States with a labor supply that has plenty of knowledge, but perhaps not the correct skills. We need to stay up with our employers in what knowledge is needed for coming jobs, and how specific skills can fine tune that knowledge in a productive worker. This is why developing career pathways and transition programs is so important: we need support for changing employer needs, as well as a wide breadth of worker background to minimize the time someone is unemployed who wants to work.

    If we solve this, we have taken our knowledge of labor market dynamics and done the best we can to provide economic opportunity.

    Board Corner
    MEF Board Director, Vivien Strauss, Cheese Trail Founder

    The California Cheese Trail project, created by MEF Board member Vivien Straus, showcases California’s 70+ cheesemakers - most of whom are farmers - who craft their artisan and farmstead cheeses using milk from cows, goats, sheep and even water buffalo. The project’s aim is two-fold: to promote cheesemakers - thereby helping small farms - as well as connect consumers who wish to visit cheesemakers. The North Bay, with its productive pasturelands, has 25 cheesemakers, many of whom are open for visits.

    Through the website,, a free app and a printed map, you can find suggested driving tours to cheesemakers (with integrated Google mapping), farm tours, cheese-making classes, events and details as to which cheesemakers are open to the public.

    On Sunday, October 30th, there will be a benefit for the project at Straus Home Ranch with cheese tasting, drinking and meeting a couple of calves. A raffle for a 2-night stay at the farm is also an option.

    Upcoming Events
    MEF Business Professional’s Networking Group
    Thursday, October 13, 2016, 5:00pm—7:00pm
    300A Drake’s Landing Road in Greenbrae, 94904
    visit for details.
    MEF Co-Presents Forecasting The Future
    Wednesday, October 27, 2016, 7:30am—10:00am
    Embassy Suites, San Rafael
    visit for details

    For the Love of Cheese, Cows and Farm Life
    Saturday, October 30, 2016, 2:00-5:00pm
    Straus Home Ranch, Marshall
    visit for details

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    MEF Newsletter August 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    August 2016


    by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro

    Year of the Entrepreneur

    North Bay iHub celebrates the second annual North Bay Innovation Week highlighting innovation in the North Bay the week of Sept 12 – 16, 2016. In collaboration with iHub, Marin Economic Forum is hosting our 4th annual Marinnovation event on September 13.

    iHub is a collaborative of partners dedicated to building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties thru the promotion of innovation as a community building and job creation tool by providing entrepreneurs with resources to enable them to build successful businesses.

    The information economy has impacted the way we currently work and will continue to impact the way we work. This economy values knowledge workers and our future depends on the workforce development strategies towards a sustainable economy. There are many ways to discover your value in our economy. One question to ask is, “Could the vast majority of your work responsibilities be automated by a “kludged together” Excel script?”

    America is the wealthiest country on earth because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom. Said differently, our wealth is not preordained; it is not coincidence and is it not guaranteed to endure. Instead, our wealth is the direct result of deliberate action to abide by certain economic principles, laws, and freedoms, many of which are now slipping away.

    Some portion of the persistent unemployment in our economy is structural in nature: There is a gap between the skills of the unemployed and the capabilities that are being sought by employers with unfilled job openings. Much of the structural unemployment we see is being caused by rapid technological innovation and the evolution of our economy, which increasingly demands workers with technical skills and experience. Conventional thinking might look at this problem and say that this phenomenon happens constantly; as economies grow, skilled workers are in increasing demand. We now face a situation in which technological innovation is altering the economy so rapidly that many workers are unable to make the adjustment and gain the retraining necessary to evolve with it.

    A simple thought experiment: Let’s pretend you won $10 million in the lottery and you could only do one of the following two things with your windfall:

  • Option #1: Invest in a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds and live comfortably on $300,000 – $400,000 per year in income.
  • Option #2: Start-up a new business that is creative and innovative and hires new employees to try and become successful.
  • Which option would you choose? There is no right or wrong answer here. Both options might benefit you, but only the second option is capable of being beneficial to the broader economy and society at large. New business formation and the creation, innovation, and job opportunities that come with it are the foundation of economic growth and prosperity.

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    by Dr. Robert Eyler

    Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

    Entrepreneurship and sustainability have a similar history in terms of how economists look at their definitions. Initially, we looked at entrepreneurship as “ideas”; economists think about four factors of production or inputs including labor, land, physical capital, and entrepreneurship. These ideas are paid profits, profits earned by the idea owner or ultimately the owner of a business that springs from intellectual capital (the idea). The entrepreneur’s role in our economy became more important as the economy began to monetize ideas more rapidly, and with large sums of money. There is a magazine with the title of “Entrepreneur” like “People” or “Time”; like sustainability, entrepreneurship has become a generalized term and no longer associated directly with its original meaning. Generally, we think of a smart person who started a business that was successful as an entrepreneur now. Economists still consider entrepreneurship an input to any and all businesses.

    Successful businesses are the heart of every economy and all businesses began technically with an entrepreneur. We teach this subject throughout business school curricula; Dominican University of California has its MBA programs wrapped around the entrepreneur; Babson College has a satellite campus in San Francisco on the Embarcadero and Folsom Street, a college made famous for its focus on entrepreneurship as a core idea taught in its classes. The concept is everywhere, and everyone has some ideas about new products or innovations. Not all these ideas are commercial; television programs like Shark Tank provide a quick lens into the decision making that links financial markets to new ideas.

    Marin County is a place where famous entrepreneurs have flourished. Lucasfilm, Fair Issac, BioMarin, EO Products, and many others started and grew here. Many lessons can be learned from these businesses growing from a couple ideas or concepts or products; many other businesses fail to make it here in Marin County, as in other places as starting a business is tough. Marin Economic Forum’s work is to stimulate entrepreneurs in Marin County and beyond to see Marin County as a place to do business. The history is here, but is the community support?

    Marin County has been resistant to business growth generally, under the supposition that growth means change which has many “bads” that come with it. Ironically, climate change will likely be solved or mitigated by entrepreneurship: science made commercial to help people and the earth. Everything in your home, the restaurant meals you enjoy, the phone you may be reading this on right now is a by-product of supported entrepreneurship. Our community is supported by businesses and new ideas; without them, there is no change and nothing new, fewer jobs and societal devolution.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    MEF Board Director, Laurie O’ Hara, Working Solutions

    Congratulations to Working Solutions. On Friday, July 8, they funded their 400th microloan! The loan was made to Firebrand Artisan Breads, a local bakery in Oakland that is taking the Bay Area by storm with its signature breads and delicious pastries.

    Working Solutions began in 1999 as a workforce development program under the auspices of TMC Financing. By 2005, the organization had commenced its own microlending program. Since then, they have provided over $9.8 million in lending capital to Bay Area businesses and perfected their holistic approach to community economic development by blending their lending services with business coaching and mentoring programs. In 2009, Working Solutions was officially designated a United States Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

    MEF Board Director, Michael Leifer, Digital Candy

    Congratulations to Michael Leifer and the launch of Digital Candy. Digital Candy offers advanced artificial intelligence searches on the web to identify counterfeit products and misused logos, domains, images and video.



    Marinnovation — Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016
    4:30pm – 7:30pm, Marin Commons, San Rafael
    visit to register

    North Bay Innovation Week
    September 12-16, 2016

    Throughout Sonoma and Marin counties

    100MARIN — Wednesday, September 28, 2016
    block party outside of Il Davide, San Rafael
    6:00pm – 8:00pm
    visit: to register

    MEF Newsletter July 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    July 2016


    by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro


    The BIO International Conference returned to the birthplace of biotechnology, San Francisco, for 2016. Bio2016 attracted over 15,000 biotechnology and pharmaceutical leaders for one week of intensive networking and partnering meetings to discover new opportunities and promising partnerships.

    The North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA), in partnership with the Marin Economic Forum, held an important presence at the conference as part of the California Pavilion. NBLSA monitors trends in employment, financing, commercial space, and government support for life-science businesses in the NBLSA counties (Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano). Importantly, the North Bay is one of the global hubs of life-science businesses and finance in Northern California which, in turn, is a global hub for research and development in the field.

    Recognizing the impact of the NBLSA region, the California Life Sciences Alliance (CLSA) asked our chief economist, Dr. Robert Eyler, to be the opening speaker at the California Pavilion.

    Title of the talk: North Bay Life Sciences Alliance | Growing and Moving in the North Bay

    Following the completion of the conference, we co-hosted a morning session at the Buck Institute for media and senior executives who attended the event. Presentations were made by Chris Stewart, NBLSA COE and Chairman and Stelios Tzannis, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Buck Institute.

    NBLSA Annual Report

    NBLSA also recently published its annual report, produced by the Marin Economic Forum (MEF), which identifies 90 businesses involved in global life-science markets within the NBLSA counties, with as many as 470 headquartered and branch businesses stretching across different life-science sectors in the North Bay.

    As of the second quarter of 2015, the NBLSA counties accounted for 10,000 jobs in the life-science sector. For the entire year 2015, researchers were awarded $13 million in National Institute of Health (NIH) grants, primarily from the Buck Institute for Aging Research in Marin County. Venture capital trends are moving toward a larger proportion of life-science investment in portfolios. In Marin County, biotechnology is second only to software as venture capital investment since 2009.

    The Economic Value of Doing Good: BioMarin’s Impact on the Bay Area Economy

    MEF chief economist Dr. Eyler has produced a case study for BioMarin, using the Company’s revenue, employment figures, and aggregate wage data to construct an economic model of its impact on the overall Bay Area economy.

    Headquartered in San Rafael, BioMarin is one of the largest private-sector employers north of the Golden Gate Bridge. BioMarin’s presence leads to regional spending beyond its headquarters and operations in Marin County, and this ripple effect spreads to industries beyond biology research and manufacturing.

    Another highlight from BIO2016 was the keynote address by Dr. Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu and Will Smith. Dr. Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by examining American football players while working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh.

    Dr. Omalu’s efforts to study and publicize CTE in the face of opposition by the National Football League were first reported in a GQ magazine article in 2009. The article was later expanded into a book, Concussion, and adapted into a film of the same name where Dr. Omalu, the central character, is portrayed by Smith. The movie’s production led to the creation of a foundation named after Dr. Omalu to advance CTE and concussion research.

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    by Dr. Robert Eyler

    Brexit and Marin County: Marin is Sound as the Pound?

    As Brexit was passed by voters in the United Kingdom, many questions remain and new ones are being raised. Locally (and regionally), there may be repercussions for Marin County, which has several companies who compete on a global basis. The three primary issues Marin County residents and employers need to consider are: (1) housing and financial market performance; (2) shifts in tourism flows, and (3) trade links to the UK as either a marketplace or a gateway to mainland Europe.

    The June 23rd vote in the United Kingdom (UK) is further proof that we are likely to remember 2016 as one of the most politically-focused years in this century, and perhaps in the last 25 years. While American politics are slowly building to a crescendo in November for the presidential election, the UK debated, placed on the ballot and voted to leave the European Union (EU). Because the pound sterling (the UK’s currency) is not part of the consortium of countries using the Euro, the unwind is more about how currencies are trading for each other and less about compliance. That unwind from trade and financial infrastructure based on EU membership will be a large enough headache.

    The EU is a group of countries that came together from the European Common Market of the 20th century, and began the move toward a common currency (which non-Euro countries, including the UK, backed out of in the 1990s). These agreements begin with free trade among members, then customs unions (harmonizing trade laws inside and outside the membership), and then common markets (trade flows free for goods, financial capital and labor). The latter issue became paramount for the UK as the flow of migrant workers from other EU countries increased to take advantage of strong currency and high wages in the UK. The EU countries otherwise are a mixed bag of recovery stories since the last recession, and migration issues were exacerbated by refugees from the Middle East seeking a new life.

    For Marin County, housing may be positively affected for two reasons. First, the outflow of capital toward the United States from the UK will further reduce pressure on interest rates; the Federal Reserve knows this and may now further delay interest rate increases to prevent the U.S. from becoming a magnet for UK wealth seeking the slightest of interest rate gains. Mortgage rates will remain stable and low, and housing demand will remain supported. Those residents with global investments may find losses from emerging markets that have ties to the UK (Indonesia and Malaysia are two examples); countries like Japan may be helped by this financially, though auto sales to the UK (and wine sales there for the North Bay region) may suffer.

    For Marin County businesses, trade and labor connections to the UK may be delayed due to connections toward other EU countries changing. UK and US trade and financial relations otherwise should be little affected if there are no direct connections outside the UK. Business such as Autodesk and BioMarin may need to consider the size and scope of offices and business branches in the UK if used to service Europe more completely. This is a major theme for US businesses using the UK as a launching pad for Europe). This may slow progress in life sciences generally, especially if global uncertainty is exacerbated by this situation.

    For tourism, we may see a flip of British tourism for Americans. Marin County residents may now plan trips to London they have delayed because the pound’s value falling suddenly provides a tax break for travelers. For UK travelers, they are facing a tax increase coming to Marin County, wine country, and the greater Bay Area. Businesses in Marin County, such as hotels and B&Bs and restaurants, may here fewer UK accents in the coming months, which could make for some marketing challenges given the summer has started. (DO WE KNOW IF UK TOURISM IN MARIN COUNTY IS SIGNIFICANT? THIS COULD BE A SUPPOSITION WITH LITTLE SUPPORT IN REALITY.)

    Under the assumption that global uncertainty ebbs a bit after the tidal wave of opinions and concerns is done crashing over news channels, Marin County should be economically good after this is all said and done. The UK has multiple reasons to sort the aftermath out quickly, and then we can prepare for November and more political zaniness.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    MEF Board Director Nina Gardner, 100MARIN/CORE

    100+ People Who Care: Marin County (100MARIN) is Marin County’s premier giving circle. The organization was created to increase the collective impact of its members’ annual dues, while helping to further the causes of deserving, local non-profits. Founded in January 2015, the group holds meetings twice a year, at which each attendee pledges $100. Five Marin-based non-profits then each make four-minute pitches, everyone votes for their favorite presentation, and the winner leaves with all of the pledge money. 100MARIN has been a fiscally-sponsored arm of the Marin Economic Forum since July 2015.

    Here’s how it works:

  • A group of individuals commits to an annual donation schedule, e.g. giving $100 2-4 times per year
  • They then convene on that same schedule to hear presentations form 3-5 local non-profits
  • At the end, a vote is conducted to determine which organization will receive the group’s pooled donations
  • The awareness and engagement opportunities for both nominated charities as well as non-profit community at large are increased
  • MEF Board Director, Brigitte Moran, CEO of Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM)

    Brigitte is dedicated to realizing AIM’s vision of building a pavilion focused on celebrating the region’s agricultural roots, supporting artisan development and the success of our 500 local farmers and food purveyors, as well as educating and connecting communities to local agriculture.

    The FARM FIELD STUDIES PROGRAM brings children and young adults from around the Bay Area to local farms. The goal is to empower young people to make food choices that will positively impact their long-term health. Knowledge of where food comes from is a powerful tool for teaching good nutrition. Experiencing farms first-hand can inspire young people to become active participants in a sustainable food system as consumers, and even as producers of their own food.

    Calendar of Events


  • Marinnovation
  • Forecasting the Future
  • 28 — 100MARIN
  • MEF Newsletter May 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    May 2016


    by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro

    Introducing Jim Cordeiro

    It is with gratitude that I begin my tenure as CEO of the Marin Economic Forum (MEF). Before coming to the MEF, I co-founded Oceana Technologies and worked as a leading scientist at biotechnology and academic organizations. I served on the board of directors for the Pacifica Education Foundation, leading efforts in fund development, 21st century learning and technology. My diverse skill set and strategic management provide the tools to guide business decisions, oversee and participate in all aspects of our community’s needs and wants. I am active in the biotechnology, entrepreneurial and nonprofit communities.

    MEF and its board acts as a source of networking and information about the Marin County economy, and the county’s role and connections in the North Bay. With the support of our Staff, Board of Directors and community, we will continue educating Marin about its economy and communities to strengthen economic vitality.

    MEF “working groups” facilitate us finding out more of what is happening on the front lines in Marin’s economy, and what questions are being asked by local businesses and non-profits. We are fortunate that Marin has an existing robust life-science community, from BioMarin to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and the North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA).

    NBLSA 2016 annual report highlights Growth, Expansion Of Life Science Companies in North Bay Region. The life science Industry segment accounts for more than 10,000 jobs at 90 businesses. With San Francisco hosting the 2016 BIO International Convention in June, we will be well placed to showcase Marin’s accomplishments and advantages, as well as how we fit in the greater San Francisco Bay Area life science cluster.

    A good example of a creative approach to economic growth and sustainable development is the Buck Institute Solar Carport Project. The solar project was five years in the making and owes its success to Ralph O’Rear, a MEF board member, who recently retired as the Buck’s Vice President of Planning and Facilities. Best wishes to Ralph O’Rear in his future endeavors.

    I am grateful for this opportunity at Marin Economic Forum. We will use this platform to go beyond the basics and embrace the 4 C’s –- super skills for the 21st century: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    by Dr. Robert Eyler

    Life Science in Marin County: The Best Hope

    Between June 6 and 10, 2016, thousands of workers and scientists in life sciences are coming to the Bay Area for a global conference called BIO 2016. Over 100 executives from this industry are coming to the Buck Institute to hear more about why Marin County is a place specifically for this industry to grow and thrive. Marin Economic Forum recently produced an annual report on the life-science industry in the North Bay (Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties), where Marin County stands out. It does not have the most workers, but has the most identifiable set of businesses (though Genentech has a campus in Vacaville, Solano County is relatively new to the life science industry), and has assets – such as the Buck Institute –to act as an incubator for commercial science and a research center for learning.

    Marin County has employers that have over 1,900 workers in these businesses. Marin is home to over 3,200 people live in Marin County that work somewhere in the life science industry. Housing prices and the employment growth in this industry show a correlation since 2010, a sign that a growing economy helps housing prices and wealth. The age of these workers are mainly between 30 and 60 years, mainly due to higher educational requirements for scientists, but it is not exclusive. An important point is that as a life-science business grows, it will need sales people, administration, accounting, clerical, and other jobs that spread beyond science and have a wide array of requisite skills and possible wages and job growth.

    As these businesses grow, there are more economic impacts. The multiplier effect for Marin County has grown as Marin County’s recovery from recession has become an expansion. In 2014, Marin Economic Forum showed how one life-science job in Marin County generated over $470,000 worth of business income. One job in life-science supported approximately $473,333 of business revenue in Marin County. As of 2015, due to continued economic recovery, that number grew to approximately $491,000 per job. This seems like a large number and depends on taking the entire county economy into consideration, which is a $22 billion local economy in Marin County alone.

    Furthermore, the entire county economy being involved is important. A job in Novato has an effect on the City of Novato, approximately $250,000 per job. But because other workers live throughout the county and the indirect and induced effects (the “ripple” effects of that job) on other industries spreads its wings to all parts of the county economy, there is an additional $241,000 of business income supported outside of Novato. In some cases, a larger amount of the countywide total will affect just Novato; the $250,000 is an average effect. The key is that life-science jobs that come to any part of the county have an ability to affect the county overall.

    With the new Star Wars movie out on DVD, which is modeled after the first Star Wars movie (which was made to a certain extent here in Marin County), I thought I would write about the life-science industry in that context. The first Star Wars movie was titled precisely: Episode IV, A New Hope. For decades, Marin County has been striving to find a technology industry that will come and stay for a long time. Ironically, the digital film industry (and film’s supply chain, including sound recording) was seen as that in the early 2000s. We may have found that new hope in life-sciences.

    What To Watch

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    Coy Smith, CEO, Novato Chamber of Commerce
    The Voice of Business in Novato

    A long and successful history of fundraising and working with non-profit businesses plus management experience are among the talents that Coy Smith brings to his position as CEO of the Novato Chamber of Commerce. He has been the CEO of the Novato Chamber since 2004. He received his credential as an Accredited Chamber Executive Graduate in 2007 from the Western Association of Chamber Executives. Coy serves on the Economic Development Commission for the City of Novato, and on the Board of Directors of the Marin Economic Forum, the Board of Superior Chamber Executives of Northern California.

    Prior to work in the Chamber field, Coy was employed in several capacities in the recycling industry of over 25 years where he received several state and national awards for his work. During that time he worked for the private sector, government agencies and the non-profit sector in various management capacities to implement recycling programs and policies. Coy was one of fifty individuals in the United States to be selected by President Bill Clinton to serve on a task force to develop a National Recycling Policy. He is one of the founders of the Novato Charter School and has served on numerous local state and national Boards of Directors over the past thirty years.

    Coy has a BS degree from San Jose State University in Environmental Studies with a minor in Communications. He is married and lives in Petaluma with his two sons.

    Novato Chamber Of Commerce — Home of Novato’s Festival of Art, Wine & Music

    Founded in 1915 the Novato Chamber of Commerce has been a steadfast resource to the North Bay community for over 100 Years. The Chamber has a long history dedicated to service and advocating for business-friendly practices. However, even as the principle business advocate group in Novato, one of the Chamber’s primary missions has always been to promote the community.

    Throughout its 100 year history the Chamber has been instrumental in promoting the community. Less than fifteen years after its inception, the nation was hurled into the depths of the Great Depression. To mitigate the effects the Novato Chamber of Commerce drove in rail cars full of supplies and shelter for the struggling families of the North Bay. The Chamber would eventually endorse a major building project that would transform Bay Area economics forever. In the ‘30s and ‘40s the Chamber would be one of the first and only organizations to secure the bond measure for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Today the Novato Chamber of Commerce continues to support the community with large-scale community events. Every June the Chamber hosts Novato’s Festival of Art, Wine & Music; this annual festival has captivated residents and visitors for over thirty years. This is the largest free festival in the County with over 80,000 attendees. Boasting over two-dozen varietals of wine and dozen varieties of beer, this festival draws in huge crowds. Along with its many art vendors and margarita booths, there are two fully booked, live music stages. The Chamber’s festival takes great pride in bringing the community out and together for a weekend of fun celebration.

    This year the Festival takes place on June 11 and 12 in downtown Novato on Grant Ave. You can find out more about the Festival at

    The Novato Chamber of Commerce has proudly served the region for over 100 years. By supporting the Novato Chamber, you support an organization that stands for community and an organization that is dedicated to the improvement and sustainability of the North Bay.

    Calendar of Events


  • 11-12 — Novato Art & Wine Festival
  • 29 — NBBJ Women in Business Awards
  • July

  • 6 — Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • MEF Newsletter April 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    April 2016

    Perspectives by MEF CEO Robert Eyler
    Getting SMARTer about housing in Marin County

    In 2008, I was lucky enough to be asked to help the proponents of the Sonoma-Marin AREA Rapid Transit or SMART Rail system consider the financial aspects of asking both Marin and Sonoma counties to add a $0.25 sales tax to fund a new way to get to work and to get around these two counties. The new tax was passed in the 2008 election and the work has been ongoing to build the infrastructure. In 2016, there will be service between the Sonoma County Airport and Larkspur Landing, allowing most of the two counties’ population to use a rail alternative to single-driver car travel to and from work.

    Transportation and housing are intrinsically linked with each other. This is why mass transit usually ends up where there are masses of people. In this month’s edition of the MEF newsletter, I want to make some points about local housing options and some considerations. There is a theoretical way to understand housing and all the players inside Marin County. A housing continuum is an idea that people can slide up and down a continuum of choices. Here are two ways to see such a continuum:

  • (1) A general continuum. Homelessness is a polar end of this continuum. Homeownership is the other side of the continuum. The idea here is that ownership builds wealth and does not simply provide a roof for rent, as the choices between these bookends imply. It may be a contestable argument that the goal of the random resident is to own someday, but the economics of homeownership still provide more benefits than rental, especially in the after-tax case (due to wealth building and the tax advantages, and the inclusion of housing services that would also come from rental).
  • (2) A specific continuum. A segment of the general continuum in (1), once rental (and in special cases homeownership) is subsidized; the more intriguing categorizations begin because public subsidies are based on specific criteria that change as incomes changes versus rental prices.
  • Affordable housing is a definition for housing that suggests a subsidy may help lower the cost of housing to at least 30 percent of household income for a tenant. People tend to conflate “affordable” as a label for any subsidized housing. True affordable housing is at the lowest end of the spectrum of subsidized come from to help reduce housing costs. This is where most of the social action is in terms of housing because this is where the income mix includes those that are on governmental assistance, working in low-wage jobs, and otherwise living on the edge or in poverty. This is also where homelessness and transition housing end and more “stable” housing begins. Fair housing is meant to keep housing affordable, and is related to the general idea of “affordable” housing.

    Workforce Housing is probably the most contested definition within the housing continuum. There is a federal definition for people earning between 80 and 100 percent of the median household income in a defined area (depending on who you ask). If a housing unit is designated for workforce housing, it is usually based on the federal definition, and not on the current employment status of the tenant. Because the range of income possibilities is generally from 80-100 percent of local median income, we can assume the large proportion of those that qualify for workforce housing (if labeled as such and available) are actually working and earning an income level necessary to creep toward the median or just above it. The employment status is not a factor, the income is, which makes the debate around “workforce” housing trickier. Another definition is when an employer provides housing directly as a fringe benefit to the employee (many universities and larger employers do this as a way to reduce wage ascension and/or keep the workforce close to the workplace for production efficiencies/necessities).

    Market-Priced Housing is exactly what it says: supply and demand together determines the price.

    For commuters, we assume that the housing prices faced elsewhere (outside Marin County) provide an incentive for these workers to live elsewhere and come into Marin County for work. The SMART rail system is meant to link population centers in Sonoma County to points in Marin County, and ultimately connect to San Francisco. Time will tell if new housing is built, and where it lies on the specific continuum discussed here, but we should assume more housing will be needed as population grows and employment opportunities do also.

    What To Watch

    MARINOVATORS showcases the innovation and creativity of
    Marin County student scientists, engineers, designers and MAKERS. These
    projects demonstrate our student’s ability to apply their knowledge of Science,
    Technology, Engineering, Arts/Digital Design and Math in the real world.

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    College of Marin Academic Center, Kentfield

    Click Here To Register

    First 5 Marin’s Annual Policy Breakfast
    Friday May 13, 2016

    Embassy Suites
    101 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael 94903
    No fee to attend, complimentary Continental Breakfast

    Join us for an important community discussion about race, ethnicity and inequity in Marin Count, and the impact on our children. We are planning an interactive event and we invite you to join the conversation. Our program will be moderated by Johnathan Logan from the Marin Community Foundation.

    Click Here for Information and Registration

    Feature Article


    Nina H. Gardner, J.D.

    100MARIN Awards $35K to Wednesday’s Gift; $4K to Runners-Up

    Novato, CA, March 10th, 2016 – Marin’s premier giving circle, 100+ People Who Care: Marin County (100MARIN), hosted its Spring 2016 event on Thursday, March 10th, from 6-8PM, at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA.

    With close to 300 attendees and 350 total givers, 100MARIN’s top award of $35K went to Wednesday’s Gift, a program that provides emergency, one-time assistance to individuals and families in crisis.

    “Wednesday’s Gift would like to thank 100+ People Who Care: Marin County for their generous gift. You have provided a boost that will allow us to increase the number of people we help throughout Marin County,” said Wednesday’s Gift’s Board Secretary, Aileen Wormwood. “With these funds, we plan to forge stronger partnerships with Marin’s social services, so that we can keep despair at bay for those who need help staying in their homes or providing food for their families. 100MARIN’s gift will help to widen our circle, foster more kindness and compassion towards those in need, and allow us to offer services to more local individuals and families. 100MARIN has helped us ‘Be the change we want to see in the world.’ Thank you for this great honor!”

    The event was hosted by CORE, a local group of business professionals, the members of which have a shared passion for Marin County and its non-profit community. The evening’s marquee sponsors were Pacific Union International and International ProInsurance.

    The presenting non-profits were as follows:

  • Animals/Environment: Marin County Bicycle Coalition
  • Health/Human Services: Wednesday’s Gift
  • Arts/Culture/Humanities: Novato Theater
  • Children/Education: Marin County School Volunteers
  • Public Benefit:
  • And through the generosity of the following additional sponsors, each of the 4 runners up was awarded $1,000:

  • Hennessy Funds
  • Alta Employment Law
  • Out of the Woods Custom Cabinetry
  • Do Your Thing, bookkeeping and strategy for creative daredevils
  • The event’s format was as follows: 5 non-profit organizations each gave timed 4-minute presentations during which they shared their mission, vision, need, and impact in Marin. All attendees were then asked to vote for their favorite presentation, at which point the votes were tallied, and Wednesday’s Gift was announced as the winner.

    David Haydon of Il Davide catered the event and Frank Family Vineyards, Starry Night Winery, VIAS IMPORTS LTD, and A.L. Romano Wine Company all poured wine.

    This event comes on the heels of 100MARIN’s inaugural year, during which the circle members awarded roughly $60K to local non-profits in 2015.

    CORE’s Vice President and principal of Portico Wealth Advisors, Jonathan Leidy, emceed the evening, and said the following:

    “100MARIN just continues to grow, and with that growth comes bigger and bigger impact within Marin County.

    We now have over 200 full-time members and a host of additional supporters. Together, we are all making a difference, each leveraging our $100 donations to create a truly meaningful gift for one local nonprofit.”

    For more information about 100MARIN or the most recent event please contact Nina Gardner, or 415-717-8583.

    About 100MARIN

    100MARIN is Marin County’s premier giving circle. Founded in 2015 by members of the local professional development group, CORE, the group’s mission is to exponentially expand the giving power of its members in order to benefit local non-profits. To date, the group has given away roughly $102K to deserving Marin County non-profits, and is the official philanthropic outreach arm of the Marin Economic Forum. More information about 100MARIN can be found at

    About Wednesday’s Gift

    Helping people any way they can is the motto at Wednesday’s Gift. They provide one-time, emergency assistance for individuals and families in need, without delay. Special emphasis is placed on provisioning their clients with necessities, like food, clothing, and shelter. In providing this one-time, “no questions asked” aid, Wednesday’s Gift is helping to fill the gap between social services and the ongoing programs provided by other non-profits. More information about Wednesday’s Gift can be found at

    About “100 People”

    The “100 People” giving model was reportedly started in November 2006 by Karen Dunigan of Jackson, MI, as a simple way to raise money for local charities. There are now reportedly hundreds of “100 People” giving circles throughout the United States, including 7 in California: Central Coast, Napa Valley, San Louis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley, and Ventura County. More information about the “100 People” model can be found at

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    Calendar of Events


  • 30 — Marinnovators –
  • May

  • 4 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 4 — Technology Entrepreneur’s Meeting
  • 13 — First 5 Marin Policy Breakfast –